Please Do Not Spit

http://collections.vam.ac.uk

Unlike the scare tactics of Big Pharma today, encouraging you to take a pill if you’re sad, and another if you’re anxious, and another for every emotion known to man, tuberculosis was a legit concern in March 1928, when Met Life Ins. Company placed this ad below in National Geographic.

How terrifying it must have been, not knowing if it lay dormant in you, and you might pass it on to your babies.

Way back in 1884, Edward Trudeau had opened the first U.S. sanatorium at Saranac Lake, NY, and others soon followed, including this one in Denver. Can you imagine a doctor telling you to go out into the sunshine to receive UV rays?

Denver Public Library
Library of Congress

But progress was on the horizon, and it wasn’t click bait. The Met Life ad continued:

Think about what an exciting time that was. The readers of this announcement will not have to worry about TB. Have you ever worried about TB? Does it cross your mind? PBS.org states that by the dawn of the 19th century, tuberculosis—or consumption—had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. Mindboggling.

Of course, it’s still a very real threat to those with HIV, their number one killer, in fact. Forbes stated, “In 2016, 10.4 million people became ill with active TB globally, and there were 1.7 million deaths from the infection. While ill, a person with active TB is likely to infect 10-15 others over a year’s time.” Still frightening, but not the threat that it was back in 1928. And the US did its best to keep the nation informed. The Met Life ad continued:

Fourteen years later, baseball player Larry Doyle would contract TB and enter the Trudeau Sanitorium in Saranac Lake. When they closed their doors in 1954 due to the development of an effective antibiotic treatment, Doyle was the last resident to leave, and Life Magazine captured his exit. He spent the rest of his life in Saranac Lake, and died there twenty years later, at age 87. Thank God for the cure.

 

Chest Inspection

Life, 12-31-1945
Life, 12-31-1945

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Did you know?

  • TB is also known as consumption or the white plague.
  • In the 1800s, tuberculosis was known as “the captain of all men of death.” Does that even make sense?
  • Tuberculosis was keen on afflicting authors, including: John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Bronte, and Edgar Allen Poe.

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